Climate Action

United Nations Climate Change Conference : Québec sparks high interest at Warsaw talks

Québec’s carbon market and its linkage with California’s market generated considerable interest in the international community at COP19

  • 22 November 2013
  • William Brittlebank

At the close of his mission to Warsaw, where the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 19) was held from 11-22 November, Québec's Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks, Yves-François Blanchet, expressed regret that little progress had been made in the negotiations, considering the importance of what is at stake and the need to act quickly.

Nonetheless, the Minister gave an extremely positive assessment of the Québec delegation’s participation, which allowed Québec to assert its role as a leader in the fight against climate change. Québec’s carbon market and its linkage with California’s market generated considerable interest in the international community.

The Minister participated in an array of panels, gave several speeches, and led numerous bilateral meetings during COP 19. He presented the innovative initiatives that Québec has implemented to contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and adapt to climate change, including the Transportation Electrification Strategy recently announced by the Premier.

The Minister gave the opening speech at an event organized by the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) that brought together government representatives and experts to discuss the development of carbon markets that have been established around the world. In his speech, the Minister outlined Québec’s system and explained the steps that led to its linkage with California’s. On 1 January, 2014, the linkage will result in the largest cross-border carbon market on our continent. “The Canadian framework imposes limits that are hard to accept for Québec, which is recognized as a world leader in environmental issues. We have to speak with our own voice, present our own proposals, and build credibility that sets us apart and that will be useful when we come to the negotiating table as a country,” explained Minister Blanchet.

Québec was the focal point of discussions led by major international networks and organisations such as The Climate Group, NRG4SD, The Climate Action Reserve, and the International Emissions Trading Association, which foster the development of carbon markets. The Minister met personally with Ministers of the Environment from other jurisdictions, including Scotland (Paul Wheelhouse), Catalonia (Josep Eneric Llebot), Whales (Alun Davies), North Rhine-Westphalia (Johannes Remmel), Canada (Leona Aglukkak), and of course California (Matt Rodriquez).

“By the end of the discussions, I could see that market mechanisms are increasingly considered to be among the most effective tools for fighting climate change and adequately financing greenhouse gas emission reductions and climate change adaptation measures. The forums in which I was fortunate to participate allowed me to stress the importance of recognising and including regional carbon markets, such as the market of the Western Climate Initiative, in the next international climate regime, expected to be finalised in Paris in 2015,” said the Minister.

The Minister also represented Québec at the Francophone ministerial consultation organised by the International Organization of La Francophonie and moderated by the Francophone Institute for Sustainable Development (IFDD). The Institute is based in Québec City and is recognised in international scientific circles involved in environmental and energy issues. The Minister stressed the importance of these Francophone consultations in drawing up a new multilateral climate change agreement.

“We came to Warsaw because we had a proposal, an example to share with the international community, and our success in achieving that goal has been recognised on all fronts. We also came to ensure that Québec’s voice in Warsaw was the voice of innovation and commitment, not the voice of Canada, which is being widely criticised,” concluded the Minister.